Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friendship and Love

In the absence of any original thoughts I might ever have (I am suffering from mondo writer's block) , I am re-posting stuff from my earlier blogging days. It's kind of a cool thing when you read something you wrote 3 years ago and think, "Wow! Did I write that? That was pretty good."

Friendship is Love without wings, so say the French.

I had dinner last night with a couple who, for one reason or another, didn't make it. After 3 years of friendship and then 3 years of marriage they divorced. Now, they are friends. Really. Friends.

I was reminded sharply of the time that my husband and I were divorced about 9 years ago. In the months leading up to our court date, we spoke on the phone every day. We talked about the kids, work, our friends, our faith...anything we could find to talk about. I didn't think I loved my husband anymore, but still I could not imagine life without him.

When we went to the Judge to finalize the papers. We were joking and laughing in the courtroom about his complete inability to remember dates, phone numbers and addresses. I had to prompt him for all of his own contact information. Then, he took the Judge to task for requiring Child Support from me in excess of what he figured I could afford.

My husband's attorney couldn't believe that we were going through with it. As he rode down in the elevator with my mother and me, he looked at me and said, "This was the most interesting case I've ever had. The two of you so obviously care for each other. I can't believe you went through with it."

Frankly, neither could I. And less than a week later (on our 9th anniversary) when I got the signed, sealed divorce decree, I had it in my hand for about 5 minutes before I called my husband and said, "I think we've made a terrible mistake." Within 3 months, we were remarried.

Remembering all this has made me stop and think about friendship and love and how the two are intertwined. One cannot be a friend unless there is love. One cannot love a person unless they are a friend. Love and friendship are two sides of a coin. Without one, the other is valueless.

I have had the experience of loving someone who really should have been just a friend and when the situation became untenable we had to say goodbye. And, having given in to the emotional pull of the relationship, the friendship was almost un-salvageable. The pain was incredible. It felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest. What could have been a lovely friendship can never go back to what it should have been. Instead, it became a source of pain and confusion.

My husband of almost 18 years and I started out as friends and it blossomed into something truly beautiful and lasting. Is it completely fireproof? No, but despite the scorch marks and burns, we keep at it. We love and forgive and try to move deeper into understanding each other and being one with each other. Sometimes, it is a decision that we have to make. Yes, sometimes, it is that clinical. And then there are other times, when his kiss still sweeps me off my feet.

So with the longevity of our relationship, the question arises, when the strong emotional pull is gone, is the love really gone? Or is it deeper and so melded with your own being that it doesn't send shock waves through your body anymore? Is it just part of who you are? I think that may be the answer. You're not falling out of love, just entering a new phase of love.

All too often lust is equated with love. The butterflies in the stomach and the pleasant warm sensation you get when you talk with them are nice, but lust turns the person for whom it burns into an object and not a person. Lust asks, "What am I going to get from this relationship." Lust is a "taking" of something from a person. Conversely, Love gives to another person, without necessarily wishing to be recompensed.

We are enriched by every person with whom we converse. Those that we choose to take into our confidence and befriend touch us more deeply. We give a part of ourselves to our friends and they in turn give back to us. And that happens with lovers, too. But, those to whom we give our whole selves mark us even more.

I saw a quote one time that said, "Lovers are not just content to kiss, but they wish to breathe their very souls into one another." This most intimate connection between lovers is what separates the person we love from the other friends in our lives. It is the desire to completely immerse ourselves in the other person and to have immerse themselves in us.

And I think that's the difference between love and friendship: the depth of what we have given and the depth of what we have received.

Cartoon by Sam Brown @ Exploding Dog

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